Book Review: Firefight

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Reckoners #2

They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

I am a big fan of Brandon Sanderson's works, his Mistborn  and The Stormlight Achive series and of course several standalone's . Last year I was introduced to his young adult series: Reckoners which kicked off with Steelheart just a week ago I read Mitosis a novella set in between Steelheart and the much anticipated sequel Firefight, which got me really, really excited to read Firefight. What makes this series a great one is the whole premise of superheroes and their powers. I can't say this enough, Brandon Sanderson shows aa very dark side that is accompanied with gaining superpowers, as in his story power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

The story of Firefight picks up after the events of Mitosis, the Reckoners, who accepted David as their new recruit in Steelheart are once again on the hunt for disposing Epic's. Even with having disposed of the High Epic Steelheart they still have their jobs cut out for them for the other Epic's, a High Epic is an Epic who has powers of immortality and makes her of him hard to kill, but every Epic does have a weakness. The story starts of with the Reckoners tracing down a new Epic, Sourcefield, who has power over electricity, she can shoot it and has powers of teleportation. David is lucky to get out of the situation alive. Questions soon start to rise about why such powerful Epic come to Newcago and soon a possible answer is given. An answer which brings the Reckoners to a new city: Babylon Restored, or what was once know as New York. David together with Prof and Tia set off by car to Babylon Restored, but soon have to change mode of transport. Because Baylon Restored is ruled by a powerful water Epic known as Regalia who made the waters rise swallowing some of the tallest buildings. You can only swim or move by boat in Babylon Restored. Meeting up with a detachment of Reckoners, led by Val, they plan to take down Regalia. However they soon find out that that there are much more Epic's in Babylon Restored, High Epic's to be exact and one in particular who has quite a notorious reputation. Obliteration. He has destroyed whole cities in his wake and plans to do the exact same thing with Babylon Restored, but questions do rise in the manner of why did Regalia draw Obliteration to her city and tasks him to destroy. She can do it perfectly herself? So now the Reckoners not only have to deal with one powerful Epic but two. And if that is not enough David also has to deal with his growing love for Meghan, who is better known as Firefight, yes and Epic.  Will David be able to handle all of this or will he succumb in the deep water? Because where the other Reckoners have a calculated approach, David likes to jump in head first, which in Steelheart left him in some precarious situations.

You can really see that Brandon Sanderson knows his way around sequels, instead of letting the story take place in Newcago, he transfers it to a completely new surrounding allowing him to expand his world further and taking his story further. I have to say that I loved the whole atmosphere that Brandon Sanderson has created in Firefight. Newcago was a city immersed with steel from the Epic Steelheart, as soon as I read the first glimpse of Babylon Restored I has a big smile on my face. A city immersed in water and plants growing wild and luminescent graffiti. I could completely see the world when I closed my eyes, it felt very rich, vivid and lush. And it had a bit of a waterworld theme to it. Very cool. 

But introducing a new surrounding along doesn't make a sequel great, you also have to develop your characters more and also here Brandon Sanderson isn't a stranger, just take a look to his Stormlight Archive or Mistborn series. David, now 19 years old, has "risen" from the factory ranks to be part of the Reckoners. First he was quite oblivious to what happened above in the world and when Prof tells him about how it first was he doesn't know about it, lacking such knowledge makes him in many situation naive and he thinks to easily about it, but to be honest, I would exactly do the same in such situations, it's human nature. Added to this comes the fact of his crush on Meghan or Firefight. I really liked to read how David would go out of his way to pursue this crush and flirt with Meghan to see if it all was mutual. Next to David there are many other characters that you see in the book. For starters there is Prof, who leads the Reckoners, but is an Epic himself. A good Epic that is, or is this just want believe? Because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And this precisely the problem that Prof faces, he is using his powers more and more, to disastrous effects... I liked that Brandon Sanderson introduced this latter aspect, it gave some nice depth to the story. But also how Prof dealt with it was shown in a smart way, Prof knows it is corrupting him and he takes his time away from everything to get right once again but once the corruption truly starts it's hard to reverse... A different perpspective was shown from the side of the bad guys, the Epic's of Babylon Restored. Namely you have a very nice focus on the actions of Regalia. And her actions are divided, in some ways you think that she is a good Epic who wants to help but some of her other actions make her truly a nefarious bad guy who wants nothing more than to destroy the Reckoners, it sometimes felt like she was a cat playing with her prey but not killing (just to use a metaphor for David's sake :-)). This added a very complex relation in the mix. 

What furthermore makes this sequel a blast to read are the new Epic you meet. You can clearly see that Brandon Sanderson has a great imagination when it comes to coming up with new powers and weaknesses to implement in his story. Once again you are introduced to some very cool Epics with very cool powers, like Obliteration who can story warmth in his body and unleash it to desaterous effects, melting down complete cities, he also is an High Epic who ports away when an attack is made on him. i.e. when a gunshot is fired at him, he teleports away just before it would hit. Or take Newton for example who is able to reverse all things that are done to her. Bullets ricochet from her but also tomatoes thrown at her or when she falls four stories. Or Dawnslight who made plants grow in the most inhosptibale [places and make grafitti shine bright neon like colors. And of course there is Regalia who is a hydromancer, able to control water: making copies of herself or shoot with it, she can also scry with it as a medium. Very elaborate. But for the Reckoners there is the important question what are the weaknesses of each of these Epics, and this is also a part of the story in Firefight, thinking about what makes up a weakness of the Epic, there are some nice theories brought up, could it be linked with memories of their childhood? Or is it linked to the power they have?

This all combined makes  the story of Firefight is a non stop action packed wet and wild rollercoaster ride that you don't want to miss out on. Though this is marketed as a young adult book I know that the majority if not every adult reader who reads the Reckoners books will enjoy them just as well. Brandon Sanders is a master storyteller and his books should be made compulsory reading material. In Firefight he expands the whole Reckoners universe in full color, choosing a different city to let the story take place was a wise decision as nicely avoided any possible repetition of events in the first book. It allowed Brandon Sanderson to invest time in introducing the new surrounding and new characters that live in Babylon Restored. However as I said a new place doesn't make it a great sequel alone, Brandon Sanderson also invests a lot of time and effort in developing his characters, he does start to blur the lines when it comes to Epics, are there good and bad Epics or is every Epic evil? Many questions are answered but even more are raised, also a hallmark of a good sequel. The wait now will be long as the third book in the Reckoners series, Calamity, will be released in the spring of 2016. But if you haven't picked up this series yet, you have the time to read all three books so far!


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